Trust is one of the most (if not the most) important values to build, grow and maintain in any type of relationship, whether professional or personal. It is one of those values that, once broken, can never be fully repaired. Unfortunately, for some time now the world has been in a “Zero Trust Economy”, which has been growing and spreading around the world.

Today, if you speak to any well-experienced business person whose career spanned the 1980s and before, you will hear a number of themes connected by threads of confusion, disappointment and depression. You hear of days when things were easier, when people respected and looked out for one another’s interests. Not to say that there weren’t exceptions of betrayal, corruption and conflict; but it was not as widespread as what we see today.

The general atmosphere is that nobody trusts anybody anymore. Instead of one’s values following the business trends of partnerships, globalization and world-level purposes and goals, our values have recoiled internally to the individual and, in some cases, forgotten.

Today, not only may economies around the world be declining, but our values are also in a recession. It is extremely rare to find anyone who does not put their own personal interests ahead of anything or anyone else. The value of trust now comes with the questions, “What’s in it for me?” and “What do they get out of it?” It is a system of checks and balances.

What happened to what our parents and schools taught us, to thinking of others first, not doing unto others what we do not do unto ourselves, to putting our customers, employees and shareholders first? What happened to the trust we used to have in our leaders to protect our interests?

Our trust has been shattered by the incredible selfishness, self-centeredness and double standards that exist today; corruption, greed, lies and lack of empathy have all led to the Zero Trust Economy.

Out of all values (maybe with the exception of respect, which is highly correlated with trust), when trust breaks, so does everything else. This is dangerous because, even if rebuilt, the cracks, scars of experience and the permanency of memory will never fade. If businesses, politicians and individuals look at one another with distrust, doubt and scepticism, how are we to join hands in building a better world for our children?

We need to put together a global trust strategy and involve key people who can carry it through. But first, we must begin with ourselves.

Author: Dina Shoman was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and is currently on the WEF Global Agenda Council on Values. She previously served as EVP  of Branding and Board Member of Arab Bank; and is on the board of the following NGO’s: Jordan River Foundation, INJAZ, Business Development Center and Raneen. 

@dinashoman

Photo Credits: Reuters Pictures